We cannot live supernatural lives in the spirit unless we partake daily of spiritual food. The Word of God is our foundation, but obeying His will and completing His works are the Word in action. We must hunger and thirst daily to live the life He has given us in full.
Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. (John 4:34)
There is a powerful message in today’s verse, one I have taken as a daily challenge. The parallel drawn between the ‘nutritional’ value of spiritual and physical food is simple. Yet it puts a whole new perspective on the issue of doing God’s work and our attitude towards it. What Jesus was saying, in effect, was that He could not survive spiritually if He didn’t do God’s will and finish His work. He was intimating that these things are spiritual food which we cannot do without. They feed us and sustain us, and through them we grow. Just as we know we must have a healthy and regular diet for our bodies, so we must accept that a healthy spiritual diet is critical to our spirits. The challenge is whether or not we regard doing His will and work as critical to our spiritual health.
What is spiritual food?
Our first answer would inevitably – and quite correctly – be the Word of God. This is the Living Word, the Bread of Life. It’s the never-ending source of sustenance, strength, and spiritual health. But today’s verse challenges us to think beyond this to obedience and completing God’s work. These don’t diminish or deny that the Word is our spiritual food. What Jesus points out, however, is the simple truth that faith without works is dead. We must be hearers and doers of the Word. In simple terms, we could look at it as having a ‘balanced diet’ that is nourishing to all our spiritual needs. Doing God’s will and finishing the work are the result of hearing and doing the Word. They are also ‘food,’ however, because they provide us with practical maturity that strengthens faith and our spirits. Spiritual food feeds every spiritual need because it keeps us in Christ.
The bread and the wine at the breaking of bread also symbolises spiritual food because it symbolises the Bread of Life who is Christ – the Living Word. This is the reason why the ‘doing’ is significant. The Living Word did what the Father commanded and did it to completion. Nothing was left unfinished, and every eventuality was covered. If we live in Christ we must also do in Christ. It’s not sufficient to have the Word in us. This must be acted on in order to reveal Jesus and the life He brings. God is immensely practical in an entirely supernatural way. He transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary. In this case, He takes our work on His behalf and transforms it into something that continues to feed us into maturity. Christian maturity is essentially reflecting the nature and character of Jesus rather than of self.
Obedience becomes our spiritual food.
The real challenge of today’s verse lies in the issue of obedience. Not the ordinary obedience of the world but spiritual obedience, which is setting self aside and making God the focus of our lives. The question every believer must ask is what we live for. Do we truly live to do the will of God? Is it so important to us that nothing else will satisfy? Hunger and thirst are used often in the Bible to denote seeking God. They are powerful metaphors which cut to the very crux of human need – the things that drive us because they are so absolutely necessary. Spiritual food meets these same needs on a spiritual level, but we must first hunger and thirst in order to appreciate their value and importance. The example Jesus sets us is a life so hungry and thirsty for God that He gave up all.
The only thing that mattered was doing the Father’s will and completing His works. He gave up His glory and lived and died to accomplish this. Though scorned, ridiculed, betrayed, tortured, and executed, He remained steadfast. This was because He knew that obedience was spiritual food. It fed Him like nothing else could. This is the example we are called to follow. Realistically, though, how many of us live and breathe to do the will of God? Are we willing to die to complete His works? The truth is that we are obedient when it’s convenient, most of the time. We want God to fit into our schedules and priorities rather than the other way around. But today’s verse points out an important truth – we lose out on vital nourishment when we live lives of selective obedience. We limit what God is able to accomplish in us.
The supernatural nurturing of spiritual food.
It may seem a stretch that work and obedience can be spiritual food. But we only have to look at the outworking of these to see the truth of it. When we obey God, something is released in us. We have the assurance of being in His will, which builds faith and strengthens us in difficulties. Our ability – and willingness – to endure is multiplied. Wisdom is increased, because we seek the knowledge of God and that always brings wisdom with it. We find our intimacy with Him is deeper and more meaningful because we constantly seek His will, which means seeking Him. Peace and joy are released into our lives, along with an assurance of His faithfulness, power, and grace. Obedience opens the door to all of these spiritual blessings that nourish and mature us. If we hunger and thirst to do the will of God, He always feeds us.
Completing His work as the same outworking in us. But it also brings the immeasurable blessing of seeing God work. This is because doing His work really means making ourselves available for Him to work through us. We are simply instruments for His will. Our spiritual food in this is seeing the power of God at work. When we step out in obedience, willing to see His work through to completion, He honours that. When this is the most important thing in our lives, we will see Him work in powerful and extraordinary ways. The reality is that nothing can compare with what God can do. Seeing the impossible come to pass nurtures our spirits in a way that nothing in the world ever could. With this comes the awareness of His presence and abiding grace. We are nurtured supernaturally in a life-changing way.
Spiritual food must be a daily habit.
We need to fix our eyes on Jesus and how He lived daily to do the will of the Father. Not an opportunity was missed to complete God’s works because He made a daily habit of spiritual food. As believers, we’re called to do these things and even greater things, yet we don’t. It’s largely due to the simple truth that we’re selective about when and how to seek God’s will, obey Him, and complete His works. His spiritual food enabled Him to live a life of absolute surrender and empowered Him to accomplish the supernatural. We shouldn’t fall into the trap of seeing Him on earth as the Son of God. He lived here as the Son of Man, which means He was no different to you or I. Yet He feasted daily on the nourishing and sustaining food of living in the will of God.
It’s a reality that if we don’t partake of physical food as a daily habit, our health will suffer. Regularly skipping meals will negatively impact our strength and ability. We will gradually decline and find ourselves less able to accomplish what should be easy. This is true of spiritual food as well. We need to develop the habit of desiring the things of God daily. Our appetites adjust according to how much we eat. If we skimp on our spiritual food, we will hunger and thirst for it less. The more we partake, however, the more we will desire it because it’s sustaining. Together with the Word, God’s will and works provide life beyond anything we could imagine. But we have to partake regularly to get the benefit. A here-or-there kind of approach is simply not sufficient to grow our faith, strengthen us, empower us, or change us.
Spiritual life needs spiritual food.
As followers of Jesus we are required to live in Him – in the Spirit. To do so, we must have the spiritual food that empowers this. He is our perfect example of what it is to be fed by spiritual things rather than the things of the world. There is no doubt that Christ lived a supernatural life in a natural body. His miracles and wisdom transcended ordinary things and revealed the power and glory of God. This is our calling, too, and immersing ourselves in the Word is our foundation. But we must daily put the Word into action, seeking God’s will in all things and obeying Him by completing His works. We are each called to a purpose in Him. He provides all we need, both to accomplish and mature and be transformed. What we ‘eat’ is what we will ultimately become.
Thank You, Lord, for the privilege of knowing You, of living in Your will and doing Your works. Forgive us where we have lacked the daily commitment to see these through to completion. Help us to make it a daily habit to seek Your face in humility and surrender. Stir up in us a hunger and thirst for the spiritual food that acting on Your Word brings.